In April 2019 the Stratolaunch Systems’ carrier aircraft, known as Roc, sat at the end of runway 30 at the Mojave Air and Spaceport. For months prior, the organization had teased the revolutionary aircraft’s eventual takeoff – running test after test yet keeping the vessel firmly on the ground. But on April 13, 2019, the world’s biggest-ever plane would try to take to the air for the very first time. And if this massive carrier aircraft managed to get off the ground, it would make history.
And as the craft gained speed down the runway, its wings stretched as wide as an American football field. For the plane’s maiden voyage to be a success, though, Roc – named after a humongous mythological eagle – would need at least 12,000 feet of tarmac to build up enough power to lift off.